Biogeography's aims

John Grehan jrg13 at PSU.EDU
Mon Apr 22 07:52:52 CDT 2002

Alec McClay wrote

>My original question was about whether it is possible to say anything with
>a scientific basis about the origin or distribution of individual species,
>i.e. why they live where they live, and how they got there, and whether it
>is possible to identify their "centres of origin".

My view is that it is possible to say something about the origin and
distribution of individual species with a scientific basis. Once one
defines a baseline, for example, one is providing a hypothesis for the
origin of the track and its constituent taxa (whether species or anything
else). Since the baseline is localizing the 'centre' of the origin of the
track, it is a sort of centre of origin, although not a Darwinian one.

>  But as a biocontrol worker,
>it's still the single-species question "where did this species originate?"
>that I need to answer. If it's possible to answer it by "embracing all the
>relevant biogeographical information", I would certainly rather do that
>than make do with a "hypothesised history".

Most of what I understand abut the question of where did this species
originate is that it is in reference to members of a particular species
being located outside the range (as an exotic introduction) of the original
species range, and the interest is usually from what part of the original
species range did the exotic originate. There are assumptions of similarity
(e.g. genetic, morphological) along with various degrees of historical
information that may make that possible.

John Grehan

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